The Value of Mindfulness & Meditation During COVID 19

To close out this month’s theme about the employee experience and mental well-being during the pandemic, we’ll explore meditation and mindfulness. Most likely you’re familiar with the concept of meditation. Perhaps mindfulness is also familiar and may or may not be a common practice for you. 

For clarity, let’s cover the basics:

Meditation is an “umbrella term that encompasses the practice of reaching [heightened] consciousness and concentration, to acknowledge the mind and, in a way, self-regulate it.” (Dai Manuel) You can use it as a formal practice for finding inner peace.

Mindfulness means “focusing on being in the present, such as focusing completely on drinking a hot cup of tea, taking in its scent, warmth, and taste and removing overpowering emotions from the mind.” (Develop Good Habits) In other words, it’s an awareness of your outer life and surroundings.

For everyday purposes, the difference between them is rather slight, mindfulness is a type of meditation. Each practice is beneficial in its own right. Meditation provides us with a way to soothe ourselves and bring serenity to our minds by letting go of thoughts and mental chatter. Mindfulness allows us to live clearly in the moment. You might not take what’s said in an argument personally when you’re more aware of the other person’s emotions. Combining the two practices can result in a powerful general life management tool. Study after study has shown the benefits of mindfulness meditation on the mind, body, and overall well-being.

As a leader, mindfulness meditation is something worth practicing for yourself. A number of notable executives, including Jeff Weiner (former CEO, LinkedIn) and William Clay Ford Jr. (Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company), practice and have complemented its benefits. Aside from practicing yourself, it’s also worth promoting among your employees. These practices have benefits in the work environment and in your personal life.

Benefits of mindfulness meditation include

  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and conflict

  • Increased resilience

  • Increased emotional intelligence

  • Improved communication

  • Increased focus and productivity

Still not convinced? Consider a New York Times article reported that Aetna provides mindfulness meditation classes for its employees. At that time, more than one fourth of Aetna’s 50,000 workforce participated in at least one class. Those who participated reported a 28% reduction in stress, 20% improvement in sleep quality, and a 19% reduction in pain. Additionally, they became more effective workers, gaining an average of 62 minutes of productivity per week. Needless to say, it’s worth trying  even if you don’t commit in the long run. Getting started is easy- there are a variety of books, free programs, and apps to guide you. There are companies that will come to your offices to jump start mindfulness meditation for you and your employees.

It’s a wrap! This month we have taken a holistic look at ways in which you can improve mental well-being for yourself and your employees. We covered these topics: the dangers of multitasking, benefits of “unplugging”, stress management, and the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Addressing these topics in the context of the employee experience is a great way to reduce turnover, improve productivity and improve employee retention. 

If you would like to discuss ways in which you can make changes to your employee experience to promote employee mental well-being, contact me!